A local estate agency has been the talk at the school gates at a town in Cambridgeshire in recent weeks. Two mums in the playground have said how they went to Agent A as they have used them previously to buy and sell.
Both were surprised at the amount their properties had gone up (seemingly in hindsight a little bit of overpricing by the agent in question). Both ladies said that initially they got feedback after each viewing but that had now tailed off and feedback had now become very hit and miss.
One mum said that she chased her agent to be told that “My colleague is on the phone but they have spoken with the viewer and I’ll get them to call you straight back with the feedback” – the client had still heard nothing two days later. Another mum told the agent that she was now going to instruct another agent and subsequently had a better quality of service from Agent A. However, she said it was a case of too little too late. She also said that her husband didn’t want to swap as he has always used Agent A but she told him that his loyalty was clearly not resulting in a good service. She also told him that the switch of agents was not open to discussion, and the fact that they have now changed agents seems to clarify who wears the trousers in that household!
Over my 32 years involved in estate agency, the overriding reason for vendor clients switching agents has been down to the same root cause – a lack of communication. This may include unreturned messages, lack of viewing feedback or simply insufficient updates.
There is often a disproportionate effort from agents in securing new instructions compared to retaining existing ones. I see real cultural issues in businesses where new instructions are the main goal but withdrawals or levels of client satisfaction are not measured or discussed.
If your staff were faced with two messages as follows, which would they deal with first?
Message 1: Mr Smith, an existing vendor/landlord, phoned to say he was rather disappointed at the recent lack of viewings and wants to talk to you about the situation
Message 2: Mrs Brown phoned to say she was considering taking her property away from one of your competitors and instructing your agency instead
Obviously there are merits in dealing with both messages swiftly but there is a strong argument to say that despite the fact that Message 1 is the more difficult and challenging call – and let’s be honest, less enjoyable by a long way – if it is delayed, it could well lead to even greater disgruntlement and ultimately a lost instruction.
With instructions in very short supply for many agents, and many of your property listings being targeted and attacked by proactive competitors, it is the perfect time to review your client care policy. Remember the key definition “Effective client care contact is a regular structured call or visit made to the client with the aim of maintaining or increasing trust and improving the saleability/lettability of the instruction.”
Review your culture, your system, your attitudes and the calibre of your client care. It is crucial to look after your clients, before another agent does.